-James Osborne, News Editor
Jake Weddle is ready and confident for Division II football. This senior History Education major from Frisco, Texas, is No. 44 and linebacker for the Choctaw football team.
Weddle’s many accomplishments in the 2013 season included 125 tackles, breaking the record for most tackles in a single season in Mississippi College football history with 66 solo stops, First Team All-American Southwest Conference selection, USA College Football Player of the Week, and named a finalist for the inaugural Cliff Harris Award.
Despite all of these accomplishments, Weddle takes it in stride with a humble attitude. “With all of the single achievements I have made, it doesn’t taste as good unless we are winning and having a successful season,” said Weddle, “I could win the Heisman but if we have a 0-10 score it doesn’t matter. I would much rather go 10-0 than win any kind of award.”
Weddle gives credit to his team and says, “My proud moments are when we win and give people something to cheer about.”
Last year the Choctaws did not end where they wanted to. “We started off our first four conference games with wins,” said Weddle, “but then we had a problem where one game defense would play well and a next game offense would play well. We want a full game where offense and defense both play well.”
With the move to Division II, the Choctaws are excited and motivated and Weddle gives credit to the new coaching staff. “He keeps us motivated. He’s younger, more excited. He understands what we can do, and expects a lot of us too. He knows how to motivate and we’ve been lacking that the past couple years,” Weddle explains about head coach John Bland.
“We have a new strength coach who has helped us out tremendously already and that will make wonders of a difference,” said Weddle. “They [the coaching staff] are as excited as we are and excited to prove people wrong and to get back to where we used to be.” Weddle is referring to Michael Shumaker who has entered his first year at MC as the head strength and conditioning coach.
There will be some challenging teams to beat in Division II but Weddle said, “We’re excited and want a challenge. In order to be the best you have to beat the best.”
According to Weddle the Choctaws are ready in every way and he sees a large, positive difference from last year. “We have recruited a higher caliber of guys who are bigger, stronger, and faster in every way,” said Weddle. “Obviously, there is the huge change in the coaching staff, than the facilities and strength coordinator. Everything we need to be successful has been improved on.”
The Choctaws have been training hard since August 8. “We had about zero starters at the beginning of training,” said Weddle, “and every position you had to earn. It was fair, and I like that. It wasn’t just given to anyone and made people compete.”
Weddle looks forward to the opportunity to mentor the younger players and motivate them. “We have a lot of young guys who will be really good in a couple years and it is our job as juniors and seniors to start setting them up for that now,” said Weddle.
“I want to be successful. I want to win every game. You’re not going to find an athlete that wants to lose. The coaches will put us where we need to be to be successful. We just have to take it one game at a time.”